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Bodie Hills compromise goes to supes today

March 8, 2011

Dividing the Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area (WSA) roughly in half and creating true wilderness out of one half and a multiple use area out of the other is Mono County District 2 Supervisor Hap Hazard solution to the Bodie Hills issue, one that he will take to the board Tuesday.

His proposal, outlined in a three -page letter in the board agenda packet for this week, states he would divide the roughly 16,000-acre Bodie Hills WSA into a 10,000-acre new Bodie Hills Wilderness and allow the other 6,000 acres, where a gold mine exploration company Cougar Gold is already drilling, to be released from its current WSA status and go to a federal multiple use status.

Hazard told the Mammoth Times Monday that he knows this proposal is practically guaranteed to make people on both sides of the issue upset, but that he is convinced that it is up to him, as the board tie-breaker on this issue in the past, to suggest a way out of the current state of limbo that is the Bodie Hills WSA.

Those who want the area to be fully protected as wilderness won’t easily, if at all, support removing the 6,000 acres from potential wilderness. Those who want the WSA designation lifted on the entire 16,000-acre site aren’t likely to be happy with the idea of losing 10,000 acres to complete protection, he said.
“I know than no one will be 100 percent satisfied with this compromise,” he said.

So why is he putting the idea out now? Why does he state in his letter: “It is not open to negotiations, as it is my best solutions for addressing all the concerns I’ve read and heard to date. This is an up or down proposal.”

Here’s some of his reasons, with much more detail to come at Tuesday’s meeting.

First, he believes time is running out to deal with the WSA issue, even he acknowledged that this urgency could stop “full public participation” in the process.

One primary, time-dependant issue he said Monday, is that right now, Mono County’s Rep. Buck McKeon supports this compromise bill and that to get some action on the WSA (and all WSAs in the country) Congress must make a decision, one it has refused to do for 20 years which has left the country’s WSAs in limbo - not wilderness, but constrained by law to not allow activities that would someday, compromise their wilderness qualities, should Congress ever get around to voting on them. Hazard believes that upcoming redistricting will likely remove McKeon from Mono County after this year and that leaves the WSA issue in limbo indefinitely.

Another reason he is advancing the compromise is that he believes the 6,000 acres he suggests removing from WSA status is “not wilderness quality” and doesn’t qualify under the Wilderness Act. Correspondingly, he believes the other half, that closest to the actual Bode State Park site, is wilderness area quality and should be preserved.

For more of his reasons, the public is invited to attend the meeting Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Bridgeport, or to watch it in Mammoth via video conference.

The meeting will be held in Bridgeport, in the county courthouse, on the second floor in the county supervisors chambers.

The meeting will also be available via video conference in Mammoth, on the third floor of the Sierra Center Mall in the county offices at the south end of the mall.

For a look at Hazard’s letter and maps, go to this site : http://monocounty.ca.gov/departments/supervisors/documents/03Mar82011age...

The letter and agenda item, item 11a, is located on the last few pages of the agenda packet, along with a map of the proposed compromise.

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